Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Native Hawaiian registry advances, state stops defending old anti-gay law, Justice Department sues over airport sexual harassment allegations, Honolulu rail contracts going out, Maui and Hawaii counties mull budgets, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Native Hawaiian protest at governor's mansion file photo © 2014 All Hawaii News
The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission certified more than 125,000 people on its official register, completing a major first step for Native Hawaiians to form their own independent government that could seek federal recognition and the return of land to the Hawaiian people. Associated Press.

State senators expressed excitement Monday for the future of Native Hawaiian nation-building now that a commission has compiled a list of potentially eligible voters. The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission recently announced that 125,631 Native Hawaiians are on the Kana‘i­olo­walu Registry, with an additional 4,500 or so names still needing to be entered. Star-Advertiser.

Members of the Native Hawaiian community are on track to establish a constitution for an independent Hawaiian nation as soon as next January. Representatives from the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, a group charged with enrolling Native Hawaiians in a nation-building effort, told state lawmakers Monday that more than 130,000 people have signed up. The Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee held an informational briefing Monday at the state Capitol to take stock of the group’s progress. Civil Beat.

The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission provided an update for lawmakers today on its progress in registering members of the state’s recognized indigenous people.  The goal is to form a governing entity and self-governance for Native Hawaiians. Hawaii Public Radio.

State Attorney General David Louie announced on Monday that the state would stop defending its old marriage law barring gay couples from getting married. Star-Advertiser.

GOP Caucuses Struck Out at Hawaii Legislature. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Justice Department is suing the state on behalf of a former Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division employee, alleging that state officials fired her after she filed several complaints of job-related sexual harassment and pressed unsuccessfully for those officials to take proper action. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: Shame on the State Legislature for inviting the Prison-Industrial Complex to Hawaii. Hawaii Independent.

State roundup for May 6. Associated Press.

Oahu

After three years and countless hours of investigation, city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro said he's not through in his pursuit of alleged gambling with sweepstakes machines. Star-Advertiser.

Hundreds of criminal charges were filed after a huge crackdown on sweepstakes machines, and authorities warn customers could be next. KHON2.

New video captured by Hawaii News Now shows three more people being arrested in a crackdown on Products Direct Sweepstakes machines in Honolulu.

About 300 people crowded into the Honolulu Country Club in Salt Lake on Monday to network in advance of a bidding process for $1 billion in Honolulu rail contracts. The first bids are expected as early as this month. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has collected $1.25 billion in revenue to date from the General Excise and Use tax surcharge on Oahu that will help pay for the city's $5.16 billion Honolulu rail project. Pacific Business News.

An estimated 160 University of Hawaii faculty members will likely vacate university housing on Oahu in coming months under a revised policy that enforces time limits on rental leases for the first time in nearly two decades. Star-Advertiser.

It's been three years since new Handi-Vans joined the city's aging fleet of paratransit vehicles, but transit officials hope that a spate of new vans just now starting to arrive on Oahu will help improve the service amid ongoing complaints. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Taking advantage of a modest property value revival and an unexpected bonus from the state, Mayor Billy Kenoi on Monday sent the County Council a revised operating budget that’s 5.7 percent higher than last year. West Hawaii Today.

On the mainland, big farms can find ways to sell their produce to small school districts, but with the situation reversed in Hawaii, local farmers sometimes find it difficult to get their products to the state’s large public district, says Nancy Redfeather, program director of Hawaii Island School Garden Network. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island coffee growers welcomed Monday the news that $700,000 in federal funding had been secured to continue efforts to battle the invasive coffee berry borer. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A council committee has approved a $604 million budget for Maui County, and it’s $18.5 million lower than the one Mayor Alan Arakawa proposed. Associated Press.

The Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee approved a $604 million budget for fiscal year 2015 - $18.5 million lower than Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed budget - late Saturday, according to an announcement from Committee Chairman Mike White. Maui News.

The Maui Budget and Finance Committee today completed its review of the fiscal year 2015 budget and recommended passage of a $604 million budget, that includes a 3.1% reduction in real property tax rates across the board, according to an announcement from Committee Chair Mike White.Maui Now.

Maui County's proposed fiscal 2015 budget will be discussed by Mayor Alan Arakawa and members of his administration at 7 p.m. Wednesday on his one-hour television show. Maui News.

Carl Bonham of the University of Hawaii's Economic Research Organization will be the guest speaker at the Maui Small Business Administration Awards and Economic Update Luncheon, beginning at noon Friday at the King Kamehameha Golf Club in Waikapu. Maui News.

The sister of one of two Maui County Planning Department employees who died in a plane crash on Lanai in February is suing the airline, the company that owns the crashed aircraft and the estate of the pilot, who also died in the crash. Star-Advertiser.

Patricia Rabellizsa fell 150 feet while working at the Pi'iholo Zipline course in upcountry Maui. Police sources say Rabellizsa was not tethered to the platform or wearing any type of safety harness.  There is no law requiring employees be attached to the platform but most companies require their employees to wear a harness. Hawaii News Now.

A scattering of mice carcasses along the Honoapiʻilani Highway in recent weeks, has some on Maui wondering if the island is experiencing another mice population boom. Maui Now.

Kauai
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is beginning a project to protect rare birds and their native forest habitat in Kauai’s Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve. The natural area reserve stretches from sea level along the picturesque Na Pali coast up to the Alaka‘i plateau in the Hanalei and Waimea districts. Garden Island.

As a former pastor, Thomas “Butch” Kahawai admits that he did not think that he would ever go into politics. Kahawai, a Democrat, officially filed his nomination papers on Friday to run in this year’s election for a state House District 16 seat now held by fellow Democrat Daynette “Dee” Morikawa. Garden Island.

Molokai

Incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie visited Molokai last week to tour local schools, agricultural programs and talk story with residents during his campaign for reelection. At a lunch event held at the Molokai Community Health Center on Monday, Abercrombie shared his accomplishments, as well as discussed some of Molokai’s challenges. Here, we have presented a summary of his speech in the form of questions and answers, some of which were added for clarity in this format, and some of which were asked by Molokai Dispatch staff in an interview afterward.